Chartism and the Radical Mass Platform
A discussion of Chartism in 19th century Europe, a force which relied as much upon a burgeoning print culture as it did upon the radical mass platform.
# 103277 | 1,800 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2008 |
Published on May 01, 2008 in Communication (Journalism) , Communication (Mass Media) , History (British) , History (European - 19th century)
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This paper examines the importance of both platform and print as instruments from which Chartism, as a movement for political and social reform, derived its forward momentum in the United Kingdom in 19th century. The paper points out that Chartism emphasized, above all, the power of the word and the art of persuasion. The paper also raises the question of whether the movement displayed genuine class consciousness or whether it evinced an older grievance towards the aristocracy. It posits that print and platform were in some ways diametrically opposed to each other. However, it concludes that, ultimately, they were dependent upon one another in that newspapers needed the platform so that they could report on meetings and events, and the platform needed the newspapers to publicise its events.
From the Paper:"What should be pointed out, however, is that unstamped papers alone should not be placed on a par with the platform in creating enthusiasm for the movement. While these might have been important breeding grounds for future Chartist leaders, they hardly reached a wide enough audience to justify the kind of impact the platform had. By the time the Act of 1836 was passed, which not only reduced the duty on newspapers from 4d to 1d per copy, but also heavily penalised unstamped papers, this situation brought to a head a decision for these papers to either become newspapers outright or to stay as they were, in which case sufficient circulation figures had to be maintained to make the enterprise anyway near profitable. But by and large small-scale publications were doomed by the amount of postal charges they had to pay. In fact, the highly-opinionated and individualistic flavour of the articles they tended to contain even helped split the support of working men, sapping the unifying force that the Chartist movement may have had."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Ashton, Owen, 'Orators and oratory in the Chartist movement, 1840-1848' in idem. et al eds, The Chartist Legacy (Woodbridge, 1999).
- Belchem, James, '1848: Feargus O'Conner and the collapse of the mass platform' in James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson eds, The Chartist Experience (London, 1982).
- Chase, Malcolm, Chartism: A New History (Manchester, 2007).
- Gammage, R.G., History of the Chartist Movement (London, 1969).
- Taylor, Miles, 'Historiographical reviews: rethinking the Chartists: searching for synthesis in the historiography of Chartism', The Historical Journal 39/2 (June 1996), pp.479-95.
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